Saturday, May 31, 2014

The 7th Edition 40K Rulebook Review - Psychic Powers (Part 4)

Moving on to the next section of the rulebook in the break-neck paced review. We're up to the psychic powers. Firstly I want to talk about the new psychic phase mechanic, I'll then look at the existing disciplines and what's changed before moving onto the much maligned Daemonology powers. Here goes...

The Psychic Phase
I've only had a single game with the new rules and already I can see some issues with this mechanic, still let's talk about the good things first. I'm a huge fan of giving it a separate phase. Not only will this mean I actually remember to cast my powers (although I forgot about the whole phase a couple of times and went straight to shooting) but also it clarifies a lot of arguments about when powers are cast in relation to everything else. The method of casting is an interesting change and being able to potentially deny Blessings is a huge bonus to some armies. On to the bad...

Each time you start the phase you get so many dice to play with. In my army I had a single Spiritseer so had D6+2 dice in each phase with which to cast my Telepathy powers. I mostly tried to cast psychic shriek so used 3 dice for that to give me an 88% chance of getting the power off (slightly less than an old style Ld10 psyker) but also minimising the chance of Perils. I cast the power pretty reliably but Matt was using a GK/Inquisition/SW army which had something like 13+D6 dice per turn. Since I was targetting a unit with a psyker in it that basically meant I got denied nearly every time. Now, I suppose this makes sense, a lone psyker against practically an army of them would need some force of will to get those powers through. However, the whole experience was just frustrating. On the other hand Matt was using Malefic powers (more on them later) with tons of dice to throw at them and very little chance of me cancelling.

That for me is the issue. If you've got a lone psyker I think he's more powerful than he was before. My spiritseer could potentially cast 3 powers per turn compared to two in the old edition. He could potentially cast WC3 powers if I wanted. Not only that but he can target several different units with witchfire and still shoot his pistol (for all the good that does). That's pretty good really. If you've got a whole troop of psykers I think the individual ones will suffer. Matt, for example, spent his warp charge on conjuring daemons with his inquisitors and then hadn't got enough left over to activate his dreadknight's force weapon. In the past, alright he couldn't have conjured daemons, but he'd have been able to cast every single power he had (potentially). He was easily able to produce two vortex templates, some bloodcrushers and turn an inquisitor into a bloodthirster with little I could do to prevent it.

In theory, getting both players involved in each psychic phase is a good thing as then you're not just spectating but in practice I was just as much of a spectator anyway. Daemonology powers weren't even the problem it was just the fact that he could easily cast and I had next to no chance of getting mine off. Of course Matt's list deliberately contained a lot of psykers (Coteaz, 2 inquisitors, 2 rune priests, 2 dreadknights and a dreadnought) but it's far from the worst list out there for this kind of thing.

I think if the sides are evenly matched in terms of psychic ability then it'll seem pretty similar to 6th. Obviously in 6th if you were using DE, Tau, etc against a psychic army you still felt powerless (against psychic at least) but the stakes are a lot higher now. More satisfying rolling a deny with a non-psychic army now though I suppose.

One final thing to note. There's no longer any restriction (that I can see) on a ML1 psyker casting a WC3 (or more) power. Providing you can generate the warp charge there's no limit to what you can do.

Psychic Disciplines
First off let me express my frustration that once again GW has failed to put the chart showing which disciplines each race (sorry, Faction) has access to into the rulebook. This means you'll need the cards as even newer codexes get this wrong. Having said that the insert in the psychic cards set (from the pictures, I haven't bought any) isn't really accurate as not all SM psykers have access to everything. In fact that chart is a waste of time really. Anyway onto the powers which I'll cover just like the special rules yesterday.

Smite - same.
Iron Arm - +3 not D3 and now Smash but no longer Eternal Warrior
Enfeeble - same.
Life Leech (moved from 4 to 3) - now 18" range and the bonus wound can be passed on.
Warp Speed (move from 5 to 4) - again +3 not D3.
Endurance (moved from 3 to 5) - now WC2 and now Eternal Warrior not IWND plus FNP 4+ now
Haemorrhage - WC2, now 18" range and requires 2 tests for first model.

Some worthwhile powers here, particularly Iron Arm. Smite remains a bit crap but still a strong discipline when in the right hands. Still gone for Tyranids though but a T9 Mephiston with Smash seems like a fun idea.

Prescience - now WC2 but otherwise same
Foreboding - same.
Forewarning - same.
Perfect Timing (moved from 4 to 3) - same.
Precognition (moved from 5 to 4) - same.
Misfortune (move from 3 to 5) - now WC2 and causes Rending rather than forcing re-rolls.
Scrier's Gaze - now WC2, gives a re-roll instead of three dice and pick and obviously removed Mysterious Terrain to be replaced by Mysterious Objectives and can discard and re-gen a Tactical Objective.

Everyone's favourite discipline in 6th is likely to stay near the top of the pile. Prescience is still useful if potentially harder to cast at times. Otherwise little has changed here.

Flame Breath - same.
Fiery Form - no longer +2s but gives re-roll to wound for other pyro powers.
Fire Shield - 4+ to everything now (no melta/soul blaze exceptions) but just Dangerous Terrain instead of the old 2D6 S4 hits.
Spontaneous Combustion (moved from 4 to 3) - just S6 AP3 with Soul Blaze now, but blast after is now S5 AP4.
Sunburst (moved from 5 to 4) - increased range to 9" but Blind swapped out for Soul Blaze.
Inferno - (moved from 3 to 5) - WC2 but Large Blast for your trouble
Molten Beam - same but better for Beam rules not reducing strength anymore.

Still hard to love this discipline but with the ability to now use several different Witchfires potentially Pyromancy will get more love. Main problem is the crappy Primaris though, not so bad when you're getting it for free I suppose.

Assail - again better with new Beam rules but still not great
Crush - same.
Gate - gone to Sanctic.
Objuration mechanicum (moved from 3 to 2) - now just Gets Hot but still Haywire on vehicles.
Shockwave (moved from 4 to 3) now 9" range Nova with S4 and 2D6 hits.
Levitation (new) - basically the poor man's Gate. Move the unit an extra 12" like they've got Jump packs in the psychic phase but can't assault. Safer than Deep Strike though.
Telekine Dome - WC2 now, 12" bubble around psyker with 5++ save to shooting but no rebounds anymore.
Psychic Maelstrom - similar to Vortex of Doom from 6th but Large Blast and Barrage and no penalty for failure.

Probably an underrated discipline but again poor Primaris is less of an issue now. Nothing especially bad here so we might see more of it.

Psychic Shriek - now 18" range.
Dominate - same.
Mental Fortitude - same.
Puppet Master - gone and probably missed by many.
Terrify (moved from 4 to 3) - now -1Ld but don't lose Fearless anymore.
Shrouding (new) - 6" Shrouded bubble
Invisibility - now can only be hit on 6s in both shooting and combat. Incredibly good!
Hallucination - 1-2 same, 3-4 just -1 to WS, BS, I and A. 5-6 character hit by rest of unit instead of whole unit attacks each other. Basically a shadow of its former glory.

Towards the end of 6th people started to see the attraction of Telepathy over Divination but I suspect they'll head straight back as some of the things that made this discipline good simply aren't there now. Basically if you don't get Invisibility don't bother but Psy Shriek is still nice (especially with range boost) and Terrify could be useful in the right situation.

Sanctic Daemonology
Banishment - reduces Daemon invulnerable save by -1.
Gate of Infinity - as before but no range limit.
Hammerhand - +2 strength not +1 like in GK book.
Sanctuary - +1 to invulnerable save and 12" Dangerous Terrain bubble.
Purge Soul - focussed basically poor man's Mind War.
Cleansing Flame - WC2 version of Sunburst basically but S5 AP4 instead.
Vortex - WC3 but worth it for a 12" range Destroyer blast that persists until you roll a double on scatter.

Pretty solid set of powers here but clearly aimed at Grey Knights. I can see this replacing their codex powers ultimately. Definitely best choice for GK but risky for other armies. Vortex is potentially excellent if you get that lucky 6 and in a GK army shouldn't be too hard to cast.

Malefic Daemonology
Summoning, Sacrifice, Incursion and Possession - all allow you to conjure up some Daemons of various flavours. Of course you've got to roll the right powers but in a Daemons army you can be adding a huge number of points worth of new units to your army every turn. Those units can in turn create more and, well, you get the picture.
Cursed Earth - +1 to invulnerable and no Deep Strike scatter in 12".
Dark Flame - torrent flamer
Infernal Gaze - Beam but only AP4 so no great shakes.

Yep, that's what Daemons needed. A way to get a re-rollable 2++ without using Divination. Brilliant. All of the Conjuration powers are frankly stupid. I actually think they'd be acceptable in a CSM army (and would make sense) but in a Daemons army they become daft quickly.

Some minor changes to the existing powers for the most part but a few beloved powers are lost or else moved around. Of course, the big problem is going to be Daemonology. Sanctic isn't going to ruin the game particularly but Malefic almost certainly is. 

I've read various people's opinions over the interwebs and they range from "it's ridiculous" to "no-one will buy that many models" and even "let Daemons have something good for a change". Frankly, it seems Daemons have been the OP army of choice a lot recently. We had the Screamer/Flamer nonsense, the flying circus and screamerstar and now this. If I was a long term Daemons player I'd actually be pissed off that there'll be a lot of bandwagoners. 

GW have done so much right with 7th edition but this, combined with the subject of tomorrow's post (army selection) I think they've gotten very wrong. There's little or no risk to a Daemon army of producing tons of units each turn with most armies unable to do anything to counter it. Not only that but a Tzeentch themed list will get worse every turn! GW clearly want to flog a lot of Daemons. Of course, you aren't going to meet the maxed out lists much but it'd be miserable the odd time you do. No worse than some of the lists around at the end of 6th I suppose but GW had done some excellent work in preventing some of the dirty combos only to create the mother of all of them.

Don't get me wrong I love the idea of it in some ways but competitively it's nonsense. Frankly most TOs will ban it. It's too early to make any kind of call for BW8 yet though. GW clearly want us to pick and choose what we want from the rulebook (they say it nearly every other page) but I wish they'd put some kind of limit on things. As you'll see in tomorrow's post they don't seem to keen on that idea.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The 7th Edition 40K Rulebook Review - Special Rules (Part 3)

Tonight I'll be looking at the Special Rules section of the rulebook on its own. It's quite a meaty chunk of the book (p.156 to 174) so I figured it deserved a whole post to itself. On the face of it a lot of the rules are the same or at least very similar. When you take a closer look though there are a lot of subtle changes with significant impact. To try and avoid this post turning into a giant wall of text I'm going to write it in pretty short bullet points with the occasional comment thrown in. It's worth bearing in mind that some of this stuff is from the FAQs of the 6th edition rulebook that has now found it's way into the printed rules.

Before I go any further, in the course of looking at the Special Rules I realised that the concept of Focus Fire has no vanished. This is another one of those things people often forgot about but worth knowing in case someone tries it against you in your 7th edition games. Anyway, onto the special rules:

Acute Senses - same.
Adamantium Will - same.
ATSKNF - same apart from you no longer get the 3" on top of normal movement. Finally!
Assault Vehicle - same but clarifies that you still can't assault from reserve.
Armourbane - same.
Barrage - clarifies that you can fire directly if you have line of sight and ignore minimum range when you do. No longer Pinning which is worth remembering.
Blast - same but clarifies that models out of the weapons maximum range can be hit clarifies out of range. The Apocalyptic Mega Blast is 5"/7"/10" instead of 5"/10"/15".
Blind - same but clarifies models without an initiative value can't be blinded.
Brotherhood of Pskyers - updated for the new psychic phase, now only needs one model (i.e. ICs joining the unit don't stop it) and the player chooses the model which manifests the power. Perils wounds are randomly allocated now too meaning Justicars etc aren't automatically killed.
Bulky - same.
Concussive - same.
Counter Attack - no longer requires a leadership test which is great for my wolves (not that I failed many).
Crusader - same.
Daemon - same.
Deep Strike - deep striking into ruins puts you on the ground floor and clarifies that you can't deploy onto buildings (plus if you scatter onto them it's a Mishap). Mishap table the same.
Destroyer Weapons - now included in the rulebook but permit Cover/Invulnerable saves except for 6s but you don't get FNP still. Considered S10 for Instant Death. Clarifies about how extra wounds are allocated in that they aren't. Basically to me that means only the models hit (or under the template) are affected i.e. if you generate 3 wounds against a single wound model you only use 1 of them to kill that model and the other 2 are lost. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here. The table is different too: 
  • 1 doing nothing to vehicles or non-vehicles (still penetrated vehicles before). 
  • 2-5 is not automatically an Explodes! against vehicles but instead causes D3 hull points to be lost (plus a roll on the damage table) whether Super Heavy or not. Against non-vehicles it's just D3 wounds (previously D3+1). 
  • 6 causes D6+6 hull points (enough to kill pretty much anything, including Super Heavies) and D6+6 wounds against non-vehicles with no saves against either. 
I'll look again at D-weapons when I talk about Lords of War in a separate post but generally they look a lot more reasonable. The FAQ for Apocalypse even states that this is how D-weapons are to be used in Apoc games too.
Eternal Warrior - same.
Fear - same.
Fearless - same but clarifies you can't use Our Weapons are Useless.
Feel No Pain - same but clarified can be used on Perils but not Destroyer.
Fleet - same.
Fleshbane - same.
Force - updated to reflect Psychic changes.
Furious Charge - same (still no Initiative bonus).
Gets Hot - clarifies that you can't use Look Out Sir! (obviously).
Graviton - added to the main book but same as in SM codex - looks like it causes multiple hull points with the immobilised thing.
Hammer of Wrath - clarifies that special rules don't affect it and against vehicles it's resolved against the AV facing model i.e. if you charge the front of a predator it'll be AV13 whereas your CC attacks will still be against the rear.
Hatred - same.
Haywire - same.
Hit & Run - same.
Ignores Cover - after months of waiting we now know that it definitely affects vehicles
Independent Characters - same.
Infiltrate - same, still not clear about when an IC joins a unit to give them Infiltrate which will keep the debate going (correct me if I'm wrong).

Instant Death - same.
Interceptor - doesn't help Skyfire units hit ground targets but otherwise the same.
It Will Not Die - same.
Jink - no longer automatically gives a 5+ save, instead you can choose to Jink for a 4+ save but can only fire Snap Shots if you do. Crucially you have to decide before your opponent has even rolled to hit. There's no longer a +1 bonus for going Flat Out or Turbo Boosting either. In some ways this helps skimmers and bikes if you end up going second but screws them too since most of the time they'll be firing Snap Shots. 
Lance - same.
Master Crafted - same.
Melta - same but clarified that Blast melta weapons only get extra dice if the blast stays in half range.
Mighty Bulwark - new to the rulebook but same as Stronghold Assault.
Missile lock - now works for single use weapons as well as reducing the scatter of blasts. Frustratingly though the Nephilim Jetfighter hasn't been given this back (FAQ) even though it would now be useful to it! Interesting if you think that maybe that's what they intended for Missile Lock all along.
Monster Hunter - same.
Move Through Cover - same but now also works when charging. No more MCs failing to charge because they've stubbed their toe on a rock!
Night Vision - same, although worth bearing in mind that you can get this from the Night Attacker warlord trait now (more on that in the traits post).
Outflank - same, again ICs not really clarified. I know what I think but it'd be nice to have it in black and white.
Pinning - same.
Poisoned - mostly the same but now only gets a re-roll to wound if the strength is higher than toughness.
Power of the Machine Spirit - same.
Preferred Enemy - same.
Precision Shots/Strikes - same but now specifically states only on a 6 so those pesky AM units aren't getting it on every single shot like people were expecting. Remember Characters seem to have lost this rule.
Psychic Pilot - updated to reflect Psychic changes.
Psyker - updated to reflect Psychic changes.
Rage - same.
Rampage - same.
Relentless - same.
Rending - clarified as not AP2 versus vehicles which was in the FAQ anyway. Still think this is stupid but at least it's in the book so I won't have to point it out to opponents.
Repel The Enemy - added from Stronghold Assault.
Scout - same but clarified that Scout redeployment can be used to leave Deployment Zone (duh!).
Sentry Defence - added from Stronghold Assault.
Shred - same.
Shrouded - same. 
Skilled Rider - same. 
Skyfire - same. 
Slow and Purposeful - same.
Smash - similar but now just a single double strength attack instead of halved.
Sniper - shots are no longer Rending but instead are AP2 on a 6 and just S4 against vehicles. Still wound on a 4+ though. Pinning has gone from these weapons too.
Soul blaze - same but random allocation of the wounds now
Specialist Weapon - same.
Split Fire - no longer requires a Leadership test and clarifies that you can't kill a vehicle then shoot the occupants.
Stealth - same.
Strafing Run - another thing that's no longer Pinning.
Strikedown - no effect on Initiative anymore and MCs are no longer immune.
Supersonic - same but doesn't technically stop Hover anymore. Mind you, I can't think of a flyer that has both rules anyway.
Swarms - if there's two models an equal distance away you must take wounds off an already wounded model (mostly useful in assaults). Significantly though template weapons and blasts still cause double wounds but this can't be combined with Instant Death from doubling out Toughness. I can't see anything anywhere that stops these scoring now so perhaps Ripper Swarms are useful now?
Tank Hunters - same.
Template Weapons - mostly the same but crucially you can now hit the occupants of buildings via fire points and models inside Open Topped transports. Both suffer D6 randomly allocated hits. That's pretty devastating to Orks and Dark Eldar especially for things with Torrent too as they'll be difficult to avoid.
Torrent - same.
Twin Linked - same. 
Two Handed - same.
Unwieldy - clarified that a model piles in at I1 not it's base Initiative.
Vector Dancer - same.
Vector Strike - now only inflicts a single hit against ground targets. Against flyers/FMCs it's D3 hits (previously D3+1). In either case hits are now AP3 (previously AP3) and still Ignores Cover. That's still pretty good (if not slightly better) against flyers and FMCs but clearly worse against ground targets. 
Vortex - added from Apocalypse but clarifies that always scatters in subsequent turns (using the arrow on the Hit result where necessary).
Zealot - spelled out but basically the same i.e. Fearless and Hatred.

Some interesting changes here then. On the one hand there's a lot of rules that are simply the same or have had minor clarifications. Otherwise there's some pretty significant changes to these rules. One of the most surprising things is the loss of Pinning from several weapon types e.g. Sniper, Barrage and Strafing Run. Combine that with the removal of Leadership tests for Split Fire and Counter Attack and you're saving yourself a few dice rolls and streamlining games a little.

It feels like a lot of these changes have simplified things by removing stuff that players forgot anyway. I certainly feel like it'll be easier to remember all this stuff. I'm not sure how I feel about some of the changes though. I'm pleased ASTKNF lost the extra 3" as that was just stupid but I'm not overly happy about templates hitting occupants of open topped vehicles, even if it does make sense from a realism standpoint.

My initial feeling is that Land Raiders and indeed a lot of high AV vehicles will be more useful now. For starters they're harder to single shot since even a melta needs a 5+. A lot of armies rely on spamming S6/7 too which is obviously useless. Add to that the single Smash attack and they're looking a lot more durable. Of course, Wraithknights/Dreadknights are S10 anyway and lances are still a problem but just a thought.

Stay tuned for further analysis of the new rulebook with Psychic Powers, Warlord Traits, Maelstrom of War Missions and plenty more still to talk about. I hope people are finding these posts useful. I am at least!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The 7th Edition 40K Rulebook Review - General Rules (Part 2)

There's a lot to cover in the rulebook itself too so this review will be in a few parts. The idea is that I outline the main changes and point out a few subtle ones that you might've missed when you read through (without listing out every single change). If I don't talk about it assume it's stayed the same as 6th (that or I've missed it too!). That means you need to have a decent grasp of 6th edition to understand these reviews and I apologise if they're incoherent/bitty at times as they're a collection of my thoughts as much as anything.

Following on from yesterday's post I'll be talking about Characters, Terrain, Army Selection and Battle Prep today. Please note I've skipped over the Super-Heavy Vehicles and Gargantuan Creatures rules here since they're effectively new to the book so warrant their own post.

Unless I'm missing something I can't see anywhere that says Characters (or indeed Independent Characters) benefit from Precision Shots or Strikes (p.100). Granted most of us forgot to ever use this rule but still, that's quite a big change all things considered. One less thing to remember I suppose.

Challenges are effectively the same, with some clarifications, but now excess wounds caused in a challenge will spill over into the rest of the combat (p.102). This limits the effectiveness of using a cheap character to minimise the effectiveness of an enemy unit with lots of combat killing power. No more throwing sergeants to bloodthirsters. Still, worthwhile to protect other characters for a phase I suppose. What's strange though is that if you've got a solo character challenging a character from a bigger unit, that unit can now hit the solo character (p.103). Again, this ruins an oft used tactic of challenging to minimise incoming damage. Makes sense though that the rest of the unit wouldn't just stand back and watch (honour aside of course).

Battlefield Terrain
The rules for terrain are still slightly ambiguous (p.108). For example, if a unit is "in" a ruin they get a 4+ save even if they aren't 25% obscured. Problem is that "in" is defined as a model standing on the scenery. How does that work with ruins without bases when you shoot from the back? Personally I'll play it that if the scenery is based they get 4+ and if not they just get 5+ but that's essentially a house rule. Otherwise area terrain is kind of gone. I say kind of because forests, craters (which are back to being 6+), etc are now called "difficult terrain" and being "behind" it gives a 5+ save. Some of these terrain pieces give a save if you're "in" them too. Confused yet? I can see why they've tried to clarify but they appear to have failed unless I'm being thick! What is clear is that whilst moving through Difficult Terrain is the same, charging is just reduced by 2" (as I mentioned yesterday).

Buildings are slightly different in that they now have hull points and are effectively treated like vehicles in this regard. The building damage table is similar with a few minor tweaks. Incidentally, buildings that explode do leave a crater unlike vehicles (p.111) and again, unlike vehicles, you can charge when you disembark from a building (p.110). There's also the stuff from Stronghold Assault that people probably didn't know about (myself included) such as the "Claim" system where players can make a building friendly to them by moving a unit inside. This allows you to use the guns on an opponent's bastion for example and you can continue to use the automated fire weapons after you vacate it (assuming your opponent doesn't hop back in).

Some of the Citadel scenery kits now have special rules associated with them e.g Manufactorum allows Gets Hot! armour save re-rolls. What I can't quite work out though is what to do about fortifications. The rulebook itself seems to think it contains rules for them: "Each fortification has a fortification datasheet that describes how it is used in the game" (p.130) and "if a Citadel scenery model can be taken as part of an army, then a points value for the model will be listed here (p.183). Sadly, though bastions, landing pads, aegis lines (i.e. things you can take as fortifications) aren't actually listed and none of the scenery pieces that are have points values. Seems to me that you'll need to use Stronghold Assault if you want to use any fortifications in your armies. I thought the new book was going to be a one stop shop but apparently not.

Finally, and perhaps most worryingly, buildings now appear to be scoring provided they've been claimed by either side. That means if you place an objective next to a derelict bastion and deploy a unit in it you can hop out and leave it there controlling your objective for you! Not so bad until you think about some of the massive fortifications being scoring!

Choosing Your Army
First it's worth noting the new nomenclature used by GW. Perhaps unnecessarily they've started to name things as particular Factions, e.g. Space Wolves Faction, as a means for referring to units from a particular codex. Pretty sure everyone could've figured this out without the wording change and most people use the term Race/Army/Codex instead. In general this section is pretty confusing. Unbound is straightforward, take what you like from where you like in whatever quantity you like. I'll be amazed if any tournaments permit this except for deliberate Unbound ones but it's nice that GW spell it out that in your own games you can actually do what you want!

Otherwise things are pretty similar in terms of selecting a force. The difference is that double FOC above 2,000pts has been done away with and you can effectively use it at whatever points level you like. An army that includes 3 HQs and 6 Troops could happily take 9 Heavy Support choices (assuming 3 detachments). Once again I can see tournaments limiting the number of detachments you can use to minimise nonsense.

What I can't quite work out is how many detachments you can legally have. There doesn't seem to be a limit on the number of allied detachments you can take. I think the intention is just one but I can't see where it's spelled out (please enlighten me if you can). In fact it seems that GW doesn't mind how many you take (p.126 paragraph two).

The types of allies have obviously changed quite significantly with notable examples being Tyranids being able to ally with themselves, Tau and Eldar being Convenience not Brothers. Basically all Imperial Armies are Battle Brothers (ignoring fluff such as Wolves vs Dark Angels) and everyone else is pretty lucky if they even have an ally of convenience. This isn't a big deal to me as I try to avoid allies in my armies but I can see some being pretty pissed off that they can't buff riptides with farseers. No more teleporting Farsight bomb either. Incidentally I'm going to look at all of the deathstars from 6th edition and see how they've been affected in another post.

The way allies treat each other has changed a little too with Battle Bros. now able to use transports for example. Interestingly Come The Apocalypse no longer requires the Apocalypse to come provided you can deploy them 12" apart.

Preparing for Battle
The huge shame about this section isn't in this section at all. The old book had a convenient summary of  all the pre-game stuff and what order it occurred in. That no longer exists so you've got to root through the pages in this section to figure it out for yourself. One interesting change here is that I can't see any restriction on how many units you can place into reserve. I can hear Deathwing players rejoicing already (don't rejoice just yet though, perhaps I've missed it).

There's been significant changes to Scoring units with pretty much everything being scoring now. Interestingly, since dedicated transports take the "battlefield role" of their unit they can become Troops which I'm assuming means they get Objective Secured. This is a huge shift back in the other direction from 6th where vehicles couldn't even contest. Expect to see mech return what with the changes to how vehicles are damaged too. On the subject of scoring Big Guns Never Tire and The Scouring no longer make Heavy/Fast into scoring units (since they already are) and nor do they gain Objective Secured. In fact taking them in these missions is a disadvantage as losing them costs VPs. Total nonsense!

Whilst we're talking about objectives, the missions now state that they're deployed before you determine the deployment map in Crusade, Scouring and Big Guns. That's going to be annoying at times. Mysterious objectives are still there but now sabotaged is 3" range and causes D6 S4 hits (p.135), no more staying just outside the blast marker then!

Also in this section, first turn is now a choice after you've already deployed first. In practice I can't see many people opting to go second when they've deployed first but there may be situations where it's beneficial.

Finally, Night Fighting has been greatly simplified. Players only roll for it if one player wants it to be in effect (which is what happened a lot anyway as people often forgot). If it does occur it only does so on Turn 1 (no more forgetting to roll on T5 onward) and all units get Stealth. No more messing about measuring ranges to determine cover saves.

That'll do for this post then, I'm trying to keep them to a reasonable length! I have to say this post has worried me more than last night's as there's a few bits of ambiguity and nonsense I've found tonight whereas most of the stuff in yesterday's post was pretty clear and sensible.

There's some interesting changes here though. Scoring will be vastly different in 7th edition but it remains to be seen if this is for the best. Troops are still worth having but are far from essential now and I can see a lot of armies sticking to the bare minimum. Characters are a little weaker and frankly I don't see why they didn't just to away with Challenges since they've made them fairly pointless. The terrain rules, as ever, will be cause for debate amongst players. They've made an attempt to clarify things but in doing so have opened up more avenues of confusion.

Still, I'm generally a fan of 7th edition at the moment. My opinion might change when I get onto Daemonology but you'll have to wait for that. I'll be writing posts of psychic powers, warlord traits, special rules, etc. so keep an eye on the blog for those.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The 7th Edition 40K Rulebook Review - General Rules (Part 1)

Despite the doubters (including me) there is, indeed a brand new edition of our beloved game of toy soldiers. I'd just about got the hang of 6th edition and it's already out of date. Speaking of which I remind you that Blog Wars 7 will be the last 6th edition tournament I run (BW8 will be 7th edition of course). The new rules have been with us since Saturday but I've been away all weekend so only got my copy on Monday which hopefully explains the delay in getting this post up. In the meantime GW have been pretty busy and have posted FAQs for each army. I'll be looking at these in a separate post too so keep an eye out for that.

There's a lot to cover in the rulebook itself too so this review will be in a few parts. The idea is that I outline the main changes and point out a few subtle ones that you might've missed when you read through (without listing out every single change). If I don't talk about it assume it's stayed the same as 6th (that or I've missed it too!). That means you need to have a decent grasp of 6th edition to understand these reviews and I apologise if they're incoherent/bitty at times as they're a collection of my thoughts as much as anything.

General Impressions
I was in two minds about whether to buy this version of the book or wait for a mini version (like the one included in the limited edition set). I never use my 6th ed hardback book as it's far too big and heavy to carry around to events. I was pleased then that this time the fluff and hobby parts of the book are now in separate volumes. This means that the "The Rules" is actually about the same size as a codex, if a little thicker. That extra thickness comes from the inclusion of the Escalation stuff, more in depth terrain rules and generally wordier rule descriptions (and more pictures). The book itself is beautifully produced, although I'm not a fan of the cover art despite being a DE player. The new white/black/red theme doesn't really do much for me but at least it's all legible. Just like in the photo book (A Galaxy of War) the miniature photos are some of the best GW have ever produced.

Inside the book the order of things has been shifted around somewhat. This makes the core rules flow a lot better and I'm sure things will be easier to find for the most part even if it's confusing initially. Things feel like they're in the right place and often there's little boxes with special rules relevant to a particular section to save flicking back and forth. I'm sure it sounds pretty sad but the main thing that's been exciting about reading this book is how well the rules seem to have been written and how much has been clarified from 6th edition. It's not perfect but it's a few steps in the right direction. It makes 6th edition feel kind of rushed as if they had 7th in mind all along but rushed something out in the meantime. Of course, there's a lot of stuff that is a straight copy and paste but the subtle changes and clarifications should hopefully make it more straightforward to play the game.

As I've mentioned the Escalation stuff is now in the book so it's much easier to find the rules for Stomp, Destroyer Weapons, Super Heavies, etc. You may not like their inclusion in the game but at least you don't need to carry several books around. I'd be pretty pissed off if I'd bought Escalation though and it kind of makes Apocalypse unnecessary. Anyway, onto the rules and I'm basically going to be working through the book from front to back with the titles of my paragraphs corresponding to those in the book.

General Principles
Something subtle to begin with. The rules for line of sight now say you trace them from any part of the firer's body (p.14) whereas it used to be the eyes. This will, of course, result in some daft situations were you can see one model's toes from another but at least it makes it easier to judge.

The Turn
One great change as far as I'm concerned is a clarification on what order things occur in (p.17). In 6th a lot of things happened "at the start of the turn" or "beginning of the movement phase" but now, partly thanks to the reintroduction of the psychic phase, there's a lot more clarity about what happens when. Generally speaking it's up to you what order things occur in if they're all "start of the turn".

The Movement Phase
There's been a bit of talk about the 6" in ruins coherency but this was the same in 6th (despite what White Dwarf said), mind you it now looks like it's measuring base to base not head to base which makes a minor difference. Pivoting is formally clarified as not moving (p.18), whilst this was always the case, it still lead to arguments. Crucially pivoting is around the centre of the model so no pinching an inch folks!

The Psychic Phase
I'll be covering this in a separate post as it's new and warrants a more in-depth discussion. Suffice to say I think there's a lot of hype about it without people actually thinking it through. In general I'd say individual psykers in an army probably got more powerful but entire psychic armies are weaker (offensively at least). More on that in the dedicated post though. One thing to note is Psychic Focus (and Chaos Psychic Focus) on p.22 which gives you the primaris power for free most of the time.

Force weapons must now be activated in the psychic phase too (p.23) which may result in wasted warp charge if the psyker doesn't actually get to charge or doesn't cause any wounds. Still, it makes sense that it occurs this way. Generally I think the psychic phase is a good idea for making the use of powers more straightforward and cancelling even Blessings is a nice bonus for some armies. The new perils table (p.25) makes things more interesting too and we should be seeing more Perils occuring.

Beams no longer have the decreasing strength portion of their rules (as far as I can see) which is a bonus for those powers. Focussed Witchfire is potentially easier to achieve too making those powers more useful. Not clear how Deny works with this but I'd assume it's focussed even if you deny some but not all of the manifested warp charge.

Crucially, psykers can only use Witchfire from vehicles and even then only out of a fire point. That's huge for things like Farseers trying to use Guide etc from inside a wave serpent. With the psychic changes I think it's worth looking at the deathstars that relied on them again and I think they'll be much less effective now. I can see arguments about Open Topped vehicles as they don't technically have fire points. I know it's pretty obvious you can still fire Witchfire but some will argue the toss.

The Shooting Phase
Weapons are now fired individually in the order of the controlling players choice (p.30) e.g. all boltguns are fired together followed by a meltagun and then the missile launcher etc. This creates an interesting question about the Dark Angel ravenwing grenade launcher. In the past all shots were assumed to be simultaneous but that isn't written anywhere now. To me that means that the rad grenades will benefit the plasma talons but until I see it in writing it'll be a contentious issue I'm sure. Still, the new mechanic makes things interesting for deciding when to fire particular weapon groups. Cover saves are clarified a little with a model needing to be 25% obscured from at least one firer (p.37).

Bombs (p.42) have now gained the Barrage special rule which is a bonus as it means they can be used to snipe models particularly effectively.

The Assault Phase
Further, much needed, clarifications are given here with lots of discussion about how charge moves are made etc. Interestingly the question of can you charge something you can't hurt has been answered (p.47) and indeed you can which makes those Fearless gaunts great for stopping a Revenant, at least for a little while! Charging through terrain now just subtracts 2" from the roll which makes life more simple (especially when trying to combine it with Fleet) and Move Through Cover now works in the assault phase too.

Unit Types
Sadly the daft situation of the 1" turbo boost hasn't been resolved which I think is a shame but otherwise much of the rules are the same, aside for some minor clarifications.

The big changes come in the FMC section (p.68-69) where they now can't charge in the turn they switch from Swoop to Glide and only take one grounding test per phase. That's interesting really though as if you ground an enemy FMC they can still charge you in their turn so you might actually be helping them out by doing so. With the grounding test at the end of the phase, shooting them out of the sky isn't much use to you either, unless you can do it in the movement or psychic phase. The Dive special rule has been replaced with Jink which gives a 4+ save in exchange for Snap Shots.

Another excellent clarification is when a hull point is stripped or not. For example, immobilising a vehicle on terrain costs a hull point (p.73) but weapons like grav that cause immobile, don't strip a hull point on the first shot (p.76). Wings are officially part of a vehicles hull which you may think obvious but I've had several people try to argue this in games. On the subject of things with wings, flyers can now drop out of the sky if they're immobilised which is fun!

There's been much talk about the explodes on a 7 change. This essentially means that only dedicated anti-tank weaponry (e.g. AP 1 or 2) will be able to one-shot a vehicle. That being said they're both slightly weaker now as it's 5+ for AP1 and 6+ for AP2 to blow up a vehicle. For that reason it's probably still better just to spam S6/7 fire (e.g. wave serpents) but it does make AV13/14 that bit tougher to shift. Should you manage to blow up the vehicle the blast now causes S4 hits to those around the vehicle when it goes upand again the occupants of an open-topped vehicle still suffer S4 (still a shame for DE) and are now randomly allocated. There's no mention of a crater being used though so no need to mark a vehicles location except for placing formerly embarked models. Wrecks are also just difficult now and no longer dangerous (p.76). Elsewhere occupants are no longer automatically affected by shaken/stunned and can pass an Ld test to avoid it. Mind you Immobilised and Weapon Destroyed now affect them too (p.82).

I'll mention it again later but Ignores Cover now officially effects vehicles too along with a clarification on how cover works with shots that cause damage effects without causing a glance/pen. Like FMCs are vehicle must choose to Jink for a 4+ save but can only fire Snap Shots if it does. This is done before any hits are actually scored too so you might do so unnecessarily.

Unfortunately, they've not fixed Ordnance on Leman Russes so they still can't fire their sponsons/lascannon if they fire their main Ordnance gun which I think is a bit daft. Interestingly though, walkers can now fire Overwatch with a 360 degree arc (p.90).

Assaulting vehicles is marginally more tricky with WS1 regardless of movement, unless of course their immobilised (p.78). The ramming mechanic has changed a bit too making for easier calculation of the strength and potentially improved utility (p.93).

Flyers are fairly similar apart from a few subtle changes. There's no longer a restriction on how many missiles you can fire, although you can still only fire 4 weapons (p.84). You can't repair a flyer unless you're in it either but I'm not sure many people were doing this!

The biggest changes in the vehicle section is to Chariots. For starters the model inside is destroyed with the chariot (p.86) and vice versa (unless you're a sneaky Necron with Ever-Living). The rider can now be targetted separately but the controlling player assigns the hits so could make use of an invulnerable save on the character to save the vehicle for example. Chariots can now be locked in combat too and can now take part in challenges. Seems a bit daft but whatever. They use their front armour in combat too which is great for those pesky Necrons again! Finally, you can't immobilise a chariot and they get to re-roll one of the dice when making charges (p.87). Overall they're just a lot simpler to use but it's not clear yet whether they're much better.

Conclusion (End of Part 1)
That'll do for tonight I think. I'm still wading through the book so there might be things I have to come back and change if I read a later rule that contradicts what I'm saying. Overall I'm pretty pleased with what I'm reading so far. There are still a few minor ambiguities but for the post part it seems they've made a real effort to word things thoroughly and cover those "yeah but what if" type questions that 40K players love to come up with.

More coming in Part 2 then as I work my way into Characters, Buildings, Army Selection and Terrain.

Monday, May 19, 2014

7th Edition and the Astra Militarum Codex Reviews

For the last few books (Tau, Eldar, Marines and Tyranids) I've produced detailed unit reviews for each section of the FOC. My intention was to do this for the Astra Militarum book too. I wanted to post today to say that I'm going to hold off on reviewing the AM book until after I've seen the new rules. I can't see the point in putting a whole load of time into posts that will be out of day by next weekend. Therefore I'll take some time, digest the new rules and then hopefully find the time/motivation to cover the AM book from an updated 7th edition point of view.

On the subject of 7th edition I have to say I'm cautiously optimistic about it. Pretty much everything I've read so far is promising. The internet at large may not be keen on Unbound but personally I don't see it making that much of a difference to my gaming. I'm sure I'll have the odd fun game at home with Unbound allowed but most tournaments won't permit it. I'm not going to commit to whether it'll feature at BW8 or not (BW7 will be the last of 6th) until I've read the rulebook.

Daemonology seems like a bit of a gimmick to sell Chaos Daemons models but I can see that it'll be fun from a narrative perspective and introduce a fresh set of drama for everyone to deal with. I'm a big fan of the psychic phase idea in general though as it seems, from early info at least, to be well thought out and answers a lot of questions about what order things are done in. Should make psykers pretty powerful too. Just a shame only a couple of my armies use them! I just hope that I don't have to buy a whole new set of psychic cards if the wording of powers has been changed.

The Maelstrom of War missions look pretty interesting and I'm already thinking of ways I can incorporate them in BW8. I'm pleased the other missions have stayed the same though as it's nice to have some continuity. My problem is I'm still getting rules wrong based on 5th edition assumptions!

My main hope is that the rules will be clearer with less ambiguity and therefore avenues for abuse. Whilst the more recent codices haven't been perfect I'm hoping they'll get FAQs updating them for 7th which will address some of the old issues at the same time. They did mention in the latest WD that the new rules have been written based on playtesting and player feedback. Easy to say I suppose but fingers crossed.

That being said, I've had some great games of 6th edition 40K in the comparatively short time it's been with us. I remember being there on launch weekend and playing in the first ever 6th edition event (that Matt won incidentally). I may not be a fan of some of the changes (e.g. flyers, allies and challenges) but other things like hull points, nearest model wound allocation, etc. are good ideas that I hope are developed further in the new book. Blog Wars 7 will potentially be the last event of 6th edition for those that attend and I'm planning a big send off for the old book with 7th edition goodies available as the spot and raffle prizes. It's funny really as the first Blog Wars of 6th edition tried to embrace as much of the new rules as possible whilst Blog Wars 7 is actually avoiding some of the more recent additions like Escalation.

I will, of course, be doing a full review of the new book and talking about some of what I consider to be most significant changes and a few subtle ones I think people might miss. I'm unfortunately away the weekend of release though so I won't get my copy until Mon/Tues at the earlies.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Blog Wars 7 - A Different Kind of Tournament (Part 3)

As promised this final post, in this increasingly self congratulatory series, will cover points and prizes. I know a lot of this stuff is repetition from last time I wrote about scoring etc but bear with me and hopefully it'll clear up the actually very simple scoring system for those who are going to attend and for anyone else who might be interested. Blog Wars 7 has now sold out but I'm still taking names for reserves just in case, let me know if you're interested. Anyway, here goes.

I've never been content to simply run the rulebook missions and play out a win/draw/loss tournament. For me this plain doesn't work as a means of scoring. What you end up with is a bunch of guys on the same W/D/L ratio who don't really know who's winning. Of course, these kinds of tournaments usually have some way of separating those players who've all won 3 out of 3 games. In 5th edition this usually took the form of what was at the time called Victory Points but is now often referred to as Blood Points to avoid confusion (or create more, I'm not sure). Essentially, the overall winner will be the one who decimated his opponents but still also managed to grab a couple of objectives along the way. What it actually comes down to is the guy who tables everyone wins the event.

Now obviously, on paper that sounds pretty reasonable. Wipe all three of your opponents from the table and you ought to be beating the guy who won his games despite losing more of his army than his opponents did. Makes sense. Well, for me at least, not quite. You see the thing that keeps most of us coming back to this game despite numerous apparent attempts by GW to put us off is that there's some depth to it. Why bother with scenarios/missions if you can just ignore them and table your opponent? Those objectives were vital to the mission and you've all but ignored them. The kind of list that does it tends to be pretty boring for both operator and victim too.

Enter 6th edition style Victory Points. Now we've got a way of understanding how well you play the mission. All but one of the rulebook missions awards these new VPs for controlling one or more objectives. Determining the winner is simple then, the guy with the most VPs wins. Blog Wars goes a bit further by increasing the values of these objectives but the point is the same. By recording these directly in each round we can easily see who's scored the most. Even better if we record your opponent's VPs to see just how convincing those victories were. Trouble is, the ugly issue of tabling hasn't been dealt with. Totally annihilate your opponent and you'll still score max VPs. Well strictly speaking and, in fact, RAW that isn't the case. The rulebook states on page 122:

"If one player concedes the battle, or his entire army is wiped out, the game ends and a crushing victory goes to his opponent. Likewise, if at the end of any game turn, one player has no models on the battlefield, his opponent automatically wins."

In case you wondered what a "crushing victory" is, the paragraph above defines it by saying:

"Indeed, if the winner has twice the Victory Points of his opponent, it can be considered a crushing victory!"

That could mean you scored 2 VPs to your opponent's single VP. So then, you win the game then but nowhere (that I can see at least) does the rulebook state that tabling gives maximum VPs. This is something the tournament scene seems to have collectively decided should be the case. Well, as the title of the post says, Blog Wars is different. As you might've read after the controversy of BW6, tabling does not give maximum VPs in the objective missions at Blog Wars. Obviously, in the first mission where you're supposed to try and wipe out your opponent, doing so will give you maximum VPs though.

Now, this isn't a perfect solution. It can lead to a situation where a player deliberately keeps his opponent's units alive so he can get onto the objectives or else encourages a player to throw the game when faced with insurmountable odds. Neither situation appeals to me but I can only trust in the sportmanship of the participants that this kind of thing will be kept to a minimum.

The tabling rules when combined with the tweaked scenarios should hopefully encourage people to approach their list building differently. It's no good having an awesome deathstar if you can't hold the objectives in Control Freak but you'll need more than just tough troops to claim your opponent's objective in Emperor's Relic. I want people to have to think beyond building a list that simply vaporises enemies and grabs the objectives after turn 5.

Will it work though? Unfortunately there's only one way to find out! Perhaps this all sounds a bit naive and I'll be proved wrong by a handful of players who still bring the top tier lists and win. Better to try something different though than keep on flogging the same system that simply doesn't work and expect it to fix itself.

If you're coming to BW7 please take some time to read through the scenarios and scoring section of the event details. Now is the time to ask questions!

All this talk about points means I've really got to talk about prizes. The tournament itself will keep the same prize format as at Blog Wars 6:

1st Place: Certificate & £25 Element Games voucher
2nd Place: Certificate & £15 Element Games voucher
3rd Place: Certificate & £10 Element Games voucher
Last Place: Certificate, £5 Element Games voucher & Limited Edition Wooden Spoon!
Best Painted Army: Certificate & £15 Element Games voucher
Best Painted Special Character: Certificate & £10 Element Games voucher

Remember, these figures are effectively increased by the discount available in-store on the day (see Element Games for discounts on individual items). In addition, I'm pleased to announce that Den of Imagination have been kind enough to sponsor the event so there'll be additional prizes for the tournament winners. Here's a shot of what they'll be providing:

1st place - Box of Necron Canoptek Wraiths, DoI dice bag with 20 DoI dice and a DoI badge.
2nd place - DoI dice bag with 10 DoI dice and a DoI badge.
3rd place - DoI dice bag with 5 DoI dice and a DoI badge.

In case you aren't familiar with them they're a Polish company who provide a miniature painting service. Their commissions are tiered so that you can choose the right combination of finish and cost for you. Head over to their website for more examples of their work but here's a shot of some Imperial Fists and also a Chaos centurion conversion they produced which they call a Khorne Gore Engine!

As any veteran will tell you though, the main event is the raffle. Everyone is automatically included in the raffle simply by buying an event ticket. As I've already revealed the top prize will be an Imperial Knight but I won't be revealing the other prizes until closer to the event. All I will say is that with imminent release of 7th edition the prizes will likely be related to that. Rest assured that with such a large number of tickets sold there'll be even better than ever!

Incidentally, it's worth considering placing an order with Element Games to pick up on the day. Whilst they offer free postage on orders over £80 it's still a great idea to place an order for collection on the day to save faffing around waiting for delivery or paying extra for it. Of course their store will be open during BW7 but by putting in an order you can be sure they've got what you need in stock. With the next edition of 40K out soon Blog Wars 7 will be a good opportunity to pick up the new stuff at a discount.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Battle Report - Big Stuff Game (Tau/IK vs. Eldar/GK - 1,850pts)

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I don't like to cast judgement on any new units until I've had a game or two with or against it. Obviously you get a fair idea from reading the rules but often there are things that you haven't considered when considering the unit in a vacuum. Anyway, the unit in question for this battle report was the Imperial Knight. Since I haven't persuaded myself to buy one yet I was borrowing Jamie's (head over to his blog to read more about it).

Whilst we want to test the Imperial Knight in tournament like conditions we couldn't resist the opportunity to field a ton of big units. Here's a group shot of the big guys in question (I quite like how Matt's wraithknights look like their posing for the photo!):

Anyway, my list was essentially the same as in Monday's batrep but with one less fire warrior unit and a few upgrades on the suits etc. Matt's list featured the same two wraithknights but this time they were joined by an avatar and a dreadknight along with some extra wave serpents and dark reapers.

Battle Report
We'd be playing a 3 objective Crusade on Dawn of War. Matt would be taking the first turn but just in case he castled up his forces in the centre of the board. Of course with Coteaz involved I failed to seize. Matt's dreadknight advanced towards one of my riptides whilst incinerating some pathfinders on the way. The rest of the army focussed on the Imperial Knight stripping away half of it's hull points before it'd even moved. Elsewhere more pathfinders died but neither ran denying Matt First Blood. Thanks to some poor target prioritisation on my part I failed to get it either. I managed to wound both the dreadknight and one of the wraithknights but neither fell. All the Imperial Knight managed to achieve was a single wound on the wraithknight but he was advancing towards his foe hoping to get stuck into combat.

It wouldn't get much of an opportunity though. The wraithknights fired at it bringing it down to a single HP before charging in. One of them took the remaining HP with Hammer of Wrath and that was that. Bit of a damp squib but that's how it goes sometimes. The resultant explosion took a wound each from the wraithknights but it was hardly making it worth the 375pts! I managed to get some revenge by downing the dreadknight but one of my riptides followed shortly afterwards. At this point I was feeling very much on the back foot. The firepower from the avatar on the lascannon and all those wave serpents was simply too much for my Tau. Shadowsun and her team weren't even able to down a wraithknight when they arrived which didn't help matters. Especially not when it made her pay by killing her in combat (again!).

The other wraithknight had a couple of rounds of combat with my remaining riptide but once that fell I was all but defeated. There was a brief highlight for me though. A squad of outflanking kroot were able to down a wave serpent by glancing it to death with rear armour shots but it was too little too late. With both wraithknights free to smash what they liked the game was lost. I couldn't kill off Matt's troops and mine were soon gone. We played it through to the end and my inevitable tabling.

It's a shame to have lost this one. Before I saw Matt's army I felt pretty confident having managed to squeeze a knight into an already strong Tau list. Once I'd seen Matt's list though I knew I'd struggle, especially without First Turn. The result felt pretty much decided from the start which is a shame since one-sided games are rarely fun for either player.

The point of the game though was to test out the Imperial Knight. Despite what you might think (since they aren't permitted at BW7) I was really expecting much from it. Of course it's tough for some armies to kill but against others it'll die just as quick as most vehicles. Matt's list had a disgusting amount of high strength fire power. Those S10 shots from the wraithknights are perfect for bringing it down. Once in combat their I5 and S10 makes them probably the best way of downing one. It's a shame that one of them kicked in the shin (Hammer of Wrath) before it got to strike. I'd have loved to smash up a couple of wraithknights before it fell.

I initially thought that the Paladin was the better of the two variants since the rapid fire battle cannon would be great against massed MEQ infantry. I'm now leaning towards the Errant though. The 36" large blast melta seems far better now I think about it. I don't actually know what made me think the Paladin would be superior actually. With so many wave serpents around (and I'm sure a lot of Leman Russes after the AM book) having the melta makes it that much more potent. This is especially true when you consider it'll be those vehicles that create the biggest problem for both it and the army it fights alongside.

The Imperial Knight may have died pretty easily in this game but I can still envision it cutting swathes through various other armies. I suppose, like anything else, there'll be a rock-paper-scissors kind of thing. For some armies it'll be no problem and others it'll be their worse nightmare. I think the key is that, like any big model, it proves a huge distraction for your opponent. They can't simply ignore it which means the rest of your list gets a bit of a breather. Pack the list out with mech and your opponent's presumably limited anti-tank weaponry will be left with a choice. Kill the knight and spare the rest or vice versa.

Our last game of the day was a somewhat fluffier affair (to my relief). I'll be writing that up on Friday night so be sure to come back after the weekend to see how the Inquisition fare against an Ork horde led by a warboss with a dark secret.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Battle Report - Tau vs. Eldar/AM (1,850pts)

In the run up to Blog Wars Matt and I always try to get a few games in with the scenarios to ensure there's no final tweaks that are needed. Last Sunday we played through Emperor's Relic with my BW6 Tau list taking on Matt's combination of Eldar and Guard (I just can't call them Astra Militarum). Matt's list was something along the lines of:

18 Guardians (with wave serpent but not in it)
5 Dire Avengers (in wave serpent)
Two wraithknights with heavy wraithcannons
2 Leman Russ Eradicators (I think, the ones with the plasma cannons)
Warrior Acolytes
10 Veterans

Since this was Blog Wars 7 practice we'd be playing Emperor's Relic which is Vanguard deployment with a central objective with 10 VPs to either side and an objective each. Your home objective is worth 5 VP whilst your opponent's objective is worth 15 VP to you.

Battle Report
I got the first turn and made light work of one of the wraithknights with a combination of crisis missile team and riptides. That's a heck of a start! Meanwhile Karandras had infiltrated on my flank so I began to send my devilfish in his direction. Matt's first turn was focussed on taking out my pathfinders with two of the squads being killed off an the third reduced in number.

Shadowsun arrived at this point but couldn't risk deepstriking so close to the leman russes and opted to target the wave serpents. I rolled a hit which would've actually allowed me to hit the AM tanks but hindsight is always 20:20. Anyway, Shadowsun shot one of her fusion blasters at the empty wave serpent whilst the rest of her team focussed on the occupied one. The empty one passed its Jink save but the other blew up with fire from the rest of my army killing all but one of the dire avengers in the crater. Meanwhile the fire warriors piled out of their transports to hit Karandras and his guardians. Fortunately for me the warlock had failed his Conceal power so they'd only benefit from Karandras' stealth. This allowed me to wipe the entire squad out including Karandras giving me Slay the Warlord thanks to the Kroot who'd arrived behind them. In the meantime the rest of my army focussed on the wraithknights apart from one of the riptides who attempted to use his ordnance blast to down a leman russ but failed. This left the wraithknight alive and close to Shadowsun.

Matt began his second turn with Coteaz attempting to cast Prescience and Forewarning on the Leman Russes. Somehow he managed to double-six both rolls meaning not only did the powers fail but he also left Coteaz on a single wound! This was of little consolation to Shadowsun though who found herself smacked down by the wraithlord. She'd have been fine if she'd not be caught in a Sweeping Advance as on her own she'd have been able to use Our Weapons Are Useless (since the crisis suits had been killed). She was caught though giving Matt Slay the Warlord too. Her death certainly saved either the leman russes or wraithknight next turn.

The remaining fire warriors hopped back in the transports to try and survive long enough to grab some objectives. More Kroot arrived but Coteaz informed them that he'd been expecting them and eight of the ten were gunned down as they walked on the field.

I eventually managed to kill off the other wraithknight but not before one of the riptides had bought it. I'd failed miserably on a couple of occasions to kill the tanks so they rolled in and opened up on the riptides. Matt realised at this point that he'd been forgetting to fire their lascannons which probably would've resulted in the death of the riptides a turn or two sooner.

A combination of fire warriors and drones managed to finish off some acolytes and Coteaz who broke off to try and kill the Ethereal's squad. The game ended soon after at the top of T5 with me controlling my own objective whilst Matt's veterans held his. Neither of us could keep the central one. With all three secondaries I'd scored 8 of the possible 33 available VPs.

Had I focussed on the wraithknights on the second turn instead of worrying about Karandras I'd have probably saved Shadowsun and the game would've been over far sooner. Still the game felt pretty one-sided at the start with me killing a wraithknight straight off. Well at first it did anyway. With me exposing the fire warriors early I lacked anti-infantry firepower late on to deal with the veterans. The kroot were stupid to arrive in range of Coteaz but I simply forgot despite Matt having reminded me once that he had that rule.

Still, it was great that the game ended up pretty close towards the end. Matt was in a position where he might've taken the central objective himself were it not for my drones getting lucky. Obviously I was pleased to win the game but the main thing to take away from this battle was how well this mission works. You've got to have some way of getting to your opponent's objective if you want to score well. Even though I killed off a good chunk of Matt's army I only scored 8/33 points. You've got to push for the objectives sooner to clear them or have some way of getting to them earlier to claim them. It's certainly an improvement on both Relic (which normally comes down to First Blood) and Emperor's Will (which usually involves holding your own objective and again comes down to First Blood).

Having the objectives worth more points makes the secondaries fairly inconsequential. Sure you can both just hold on to your own objectives but then the winner will only be scoring 8 VPs. As you know I'm a big fan of quantifying victories. I don't like straight W/D/L but prefer to know just how significant a victory (or indeed loss) actually was.

We got three games in so there's another couple of reports to come. The next one involved a few big guys....

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Blog Wars 7 - SOLD OUT!

Just a quick post tonight to say that Blog Wars 7 has officially sold out! Assuming everyone turns up this will be the biggest attendance at a Blog War ever! I've also opened up three spots for reserves. If you'd like to be added to the list then simply email me with the Contact Me link on the right. It'd be great if I could get some local guys to jump in to the reserve slots as then I'd be able to cope with one or two drop outs on the day. There's usually at least one drop out in the last few weeks before the event so it's worth getting your name on the reserve list. I've toyed with the idea of opening up some more places but I think 40 is a decent amount. Too few people and it's hard to avoid duplicate matchups but too many and the close-knit atmosphere is lost. Perhaps I'll look at it again for BW8 if it proves as popular.

There's a huge chunk of people coming from a nearby gaming club but still, I'm pleased to see that despite the issues of Blog Wars 6, there are still folks who want to come along! It's also interesting to see that people don't seem too put off by me not permitting Escalation, Forge World or Imperial Knights. There's a great mix of people this time around. There's plenty of veterans including Matt, Graham and Chris who'll have been to all 7! There are also about 15 new guys who've heard about the event through friends. It promises to be a great atmosphere and with large numbers I'm pretty happy with my decision not to play this time. It should allow me to focus on the organisation and make it run smoothly. Well, pretty happy, I'm still a little sad that I don't get to throw some dice with people who are becoming friends rather than just entrants in my tournament.

I'll be getting in touch with everyone on the list in the next week or so. I'll remind you all about the list deadline and send out a PDF of the rules pack too. Please take time to read everything. I know there'll still be some who don't so I'll explain everything as clearly as I can on the day but it's easier to answer queries in advance than trying to sort them last minute. Likewise for any general rules queries (remember BW7 will use 6th edition regardless of what gets released in a couple of weeks).

There'll be the usual build up posts including the ever-popular pie charts giving a break down of the armies (once I've had the lists) and of course, the prizes! Remember the top raffle prize this time around is an Imperial Knight which, all being well, will be allowed in BW8. That should give the winner enough time to get it painted!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Blog Wars 7 - A Different Kind of Tournament (Part 2)

Let me start with a not in any way subtle plug and point out that there are just four tickets remaining for Blog Wars 7. If you'd like to come along you've only got just over three weeks left to snatch up one of those last four spots.

Incidentally, one of the guys who's already bought a ticket got in touch with me with a rules query but also said the following:

"I've been so looking forward to attending an event where it's not all about how nasty a list you can make! It's never been about that for me. I just wanted to let you know that I will definitely be taking Astra Militarum for my army with Pask as my special character. I have absolutely zero chance of winning as I only have 2 scoring units in my list but I've always wanted to do a tank company and Blog wars has given me that chance!"

"This is the first tournament I've been to in over 4 years. You've got me really excited!"

I was absolutely thrilled to hear this and it nicely brings me onto what I want to talk about today. When I set up Blog Wars I wanted it to be a refreshing change from other tournaments out there. I'd contemplated running a tournament from the first time I attended one. The first one I went to was the Freebootaz Open Doubles. The key thing about that tournament for me was the friendly atmosphere and excellent prize support. We received all received a set of GF9 counters as a door prize which I'm still using in every single game of 40K and the prizes were all decent. I think we came third and won a spray gun each (which I traded in at GW actually) but first place was a copy of the Dark Heresy RPG book each with second being some scenery boxes I think.

Contrast this with the second tournament I went to and I was disappointed to find that GW didn't offer anything in the form of prizes at their events, apart from a certificate. Still, the atmosphere was excellent and I made friends at that tournament that I'm still gaming with today. The Claws and Fists guys were there and thanks to Graham at least one of them has made an appearance at every Blog Wars so far. Anyway, when it came to planning the first Blog Wars I knew I wanted to create a friendly atmosphere and offer brilliant prize support. I've actually tried to get GF9 to offer some sponsorship for the event but so far, despite an initially positive repsonse, I'm yet to receive anything. Still, I'm looking forward to again working with Element Games and the new sponsor Den of Imagination to bring the best prize support possible.

There were a few detractors at the time who scoffed at the idea of a friendly event saying that you'd always get a core of competitive players "spoiling it for everyone else". Whilst it's true that there's been a few competitive players at each event, the vast majority of people have been in it for the fun and even the top table players have been a decent lot.

Back to the email though. I've talked before about comp and explored various possibilities for encouraging people to play interesting/fun lists rather than boring spam. In the end I abandoned the idea of comp as I didn't feel comfortable penalising certain lists over others. Of course, Blog Wars has it's own (as far as I know) unique comp in the form of the compulsory special character. This is proving to be more challenging recently with supplements and races without SCs like Iron Hands but I reckon this is one of the things that's kept BW interesting so, for now at least, it stays.

Whilst there were several issues at BW6 (from which I learnt a great deal), the atmosphere was mostly excellent and I can only hope for the same from BW7. There's still a decent core of regulars there amongst around a dozen new guys. I've always been keen to grow Blog Wars via word of mouth rather than publishing it on the forums and I think that's another key factor in maintaining the friendly atmosphere.

Sorry if this all sounds a bit self congratulatory but sometimes the hassle of organsing the event can get me down and if nothing else it's nice to have someone feed back that they're excited about the event. Cheesy as it sounds it makes the amount of free time (and painting time) I sacrifice, seem worthwhile. I'm always thrilled by the positive comments I get on here. I also welcome the criticism and try to use it to improve the event. I'd hope that if someone attends a Blog War and doesn't enjoy it they'll at least give it a second chance.

In the next post (and probably the last in this odd little series) I'm going to talk about points and of course they mean prizes so I'll mention them too!


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